Timber barons introduced eucalyptus to Brazilian forests in 1910 to replenish native forests and sustain the charcoal industry. The species thrives in the Brazilian climate, and today approximately five million hectares are planted with Eucalyptus trees.
Brazil is now the world’s top producer and exporter of eucalyptus round-wood and pulp. Its uses by local industry are myriad—eucalyptus wood is in heavy demand from the charcoal, pulp and paper industries. A positive secondary effect of the species’ popularity and adaptability is the preservation of native forests.
Brazilian eucalyptus plantations achieve world record-setting growth rates, typically growing more than 35 cubic meters per hectare per year. When well-managed, the plantations are sustainable and endlessly replantable. Commercial harvesting occurs after five to seven years, but year-on-year growth is constantly improving due to governmental development efforts and research funding.
The plantations are generally owned and operated for national and international industry by timber asset companies such as Thomson Forestry or cellulose producers such as Aracruz Cellulose and Stora Enso. In the 1990’s, Brazil exported approximately US$1 billion, and by 2005, US$3.5 billion. This trade surplus has drawn large amounts of foreign investments to the agricultural sector.
The European Investment Bank and the World Bank have given full public support for foreign investment in Brazil’s pulp and paper industry and cellulose processing plants. Private industry in Brazil has invested US$12 billion so far in pulp and paper since 1993 and has recently pledged to invest an extra
US$14 billion within the sector over the next decade.
The forest products industry accounts for 3 percent of all global trade, accounting for over US$200 billion per year. The recent presence of many foreign TIMOs such as NWC is a reassurance of the economic potential of the forestry activity. Overall, Brazil is expected to produce 55 percent of the world’s Eucalyptus round- wood by 2011.